When your home is flooded with water, you're going to be overwhelmed with all the damage. While you can hire a damage restoration contractor like ExecuClean Restoration to get your house back in shape, you're often left on your own to deal with the things you care about most, such as your documents and photos. Your contractor may offer a document drying service or be able to recommend one. If that's not possible or feasible, then you can try these tips:
It's important to start drying documents right away or they could be damaged by mold. Plus, after a couple of days, it may be impossible to get the documents apart without damaging them. If you can catch them soon enough, divide the documents into batches that are clumped together and those that are easily separated. If they're covered with mud, rinse the mud off with cool, clean water. Then, place the papers that are stuck together into a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. This stops mold and deterioration of the paper. They may even be easier to separate once they start thawing out.
If you have documents that aren't stuck together, blot them on a plain paper towel and then hang them up to dry. Don't hang them outside because the sun can damage them. String up a line in your house in a room where you can set up a fan to increase air circulation to speed drying. Once important documents are dry, you may want to scan them or make copies, just to be on the safe side. When you're ready to deal with the frozen papers, follow the same procedure. Hang the freezer bag on the line and once the papers are thawed out, separate them and hang them up individually after blotting them.
If the photographs are caked in mud, you can soak them in a tub of water or use the hose with a gentle sprinkler setting to clean them off. Once the mud is removed, place the photos on paper towels to soak off excess water. Place them in the freezer if you can't deal with them right away, otherwise, you'll want to hang them indoors from a clothesline so they can drip dry. Focus on the photos most valuable to you first and the ones that can't be replaced with a negative or other digital copy. Be sure to remove them from the photo album before placing them into the freezer. Removing pictures from a frame may be more difficult since the photo will stick to the glass when it's wet. Try running a gentle stream of water between the picture and glass to loosen it. Try to get to your favorite photos out of frames as soon as you can because it may be impossible to do so after a few days of being wet.
Your documents and photographs don't actually have to come into contact with water to be damaged. The high humidity may cause them to draw in the dampness of the surrounding air. Be sure to check all your documents and spread them out to dry if there is any chance they could succumb to mold or deterioration from humidity and dampness. If you are unsure of how to proceed with historical or valuable photographs and documents, be sure to consult a professional document restorer so you have the best chance of success.